Alabama Principal Named 2009 MetLife /NASSP National Principal of the Year Awardee

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Boaz Middle School principal works hard to help less fortunate students.

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The MetLife/NASSP Principal of the Year program acknowledges the importance of this commitment for school success.

Ray Landers, principal of Boaz Middle School in Boaz, Alabama has been named the 2009 MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals National Middle Level Principal of the Year. Landers was surprised with the news at his school this morning. Mark Wilson of Morgan County High School in Madison, Georgia was named the National High School Principal of the Year on August 29th.

Landers, who has been principal of Boaz Middle for eight years, says that it is his responsibility to inspire and lead change based on solid research and best practices. Collaboration has been a key component of increasing student achievement at Boaz Middle School. Landers urged his district to allow him to add an instructional specialist to the faculty so that teachers could get more intense professional development. The district agreed and the results have been phenomenal.

Boaz Middle School ranks in the top 3% of all schools in the state of Alabama overall and in the top 2% in the state for writing. Before these accomplishments, Landers noticed that students who were designated as living in poverty were not doing as well as those students who were not. He and his staff launched a year-long study on poverty and how it affects the learning process. As part of the study, Landers and his teachers took a bus trip to each of the poverty-stricken areas in Boaz.

During the trip, he and the teachers walked through the neighborhoods and had conversations with parents and students, giving them a first-hand look at what his students face every day. Within a week of the trip, he and his teachers had developed new policies on homework, started a new tutoring class and began buying food for families in need. Soon, there was no difference in the test scores of students living in poverty and those who were not.

"Ray Landers is to be commended for his commitment to ensuring that every student in his building gets the support that he or she needs to excel. Students at Boaz Middle School have a great friend in Ray. He truly is a champion of education and having high expectations for all of his students," stated NASSP executive director Gerald N. Tirozzi.

"Ray Landers is a great example of the dedication and strong leadership needed to create successful students and schools," said Thomas G. Hogan, Jr., senior vice president and head of MetLife Resources. "His extraordinary efforts have created a supportive environment for his students and staff, allowing them to achieve."

"The leadership of principals is crucial in connecting school and community to strengthen teaching and learning," said Sibyl Jacobson, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "The MetLife/NASSP Principal of the Year program acknowledges the importance of this commitment for school success."

Boaz Middle School has been named a model Professional Learning Community by author and nationally recognized educator Rick DuFour and has been visited by over 100 schools from Alabama and Mississippi. This fall, the school will be featured in an article by educator Harry Wong on "Learning Teams".

Landers will be honored during an awards banquet on October 25th in Washington, D.C. The search began in early 2008 as each state principal's association selected its State Principal of the Year. From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selected three middle level and three high school finalists. Then, a national middle level winner and a national high school winner were selected.

The six finalists each receive a $1,500 grant. The two national award winners receive an additional grant of $3,500. The grants are used to promote the advancement of learning opportunities for students or other related investments such as capital improvements, the purchase of technology-related equipment, or funding specific educational programs.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals and MetLife are strongly committed to supporting the visions of unsung school leaders. Each year the MetLife/NASSP State and National Principal of the Year programs focus attention on the outstanding work principals do in middle level and high schools across the country. These individuals are recognized for their accomplishments as high-achieving principals, all the while making a daily investment in our children's future.

For more information about the MetLife/NASSP State and National Principal of the Year programs and winners, please visit http://www.principals.org/awards or call Leisl Bauman at 703-860-7308.

About NASSP:
NASSP is the preeminent organization and the national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals and aspiring school leaders. NASSP provides its members with the professional resources to serve as visionary leaders. NASSP promotes the intellectual growth, academic achievement, character development, leadership development, and physical well being of youth through its programs and student leadership services. NASSP administers the National Honor Society™, National Junior Honor Society™, National Elementary Honor Society™ and National Association of Student Councils™. For more information, visit http://www.principals.org.

About MetLife:
MetLife Resources, a division of MetLife, provides retirement plans and other financial services to healthcare, education, and not-for-profit organizations. Celebrating 140 years, MetLife is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading provider of insurance and financial services with operations throughout the United States and the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions. Through its domestic and international subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife, Inc. reaches more than 70 million customers around the world and MetLife is the largest life insurer in the United States (based on life insurance in-force). The MetLife companies offer life insurance, annuities, auto and home insurance, retail banking and other financial services to individuals, as well as group insurance, reinsurance and retirement & savings products and services to corporations and other institutions. For more information, please visit http://www.metlife.com/mlr.

Contact:
Shana Kemp
NASSP
703-860-7344

Judi Mahaney
(MetLife)
212-578-7977

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Shana Kemp

Judi Mahaney
MetLife
212-578-7977
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